They’re not generating anything like the excitement of the state ballot proposals, which would legalize medical marijuana and loosen restrictions on stem cell research. But parks supporters are strongly interested in a pair of county and city votes.
Proposal A would renew the county’s ten-year, quarter-mill parks tax. For a home with an appraised value of $250,000 and a taxable value of $125,000, the cost works out to about $30 a year; the money will be used to expand and operate the county’s parks and nature preserves. Defeat, while unlikely, would be “catastrophic,” says county parks head Bob Tetens.
City residents also will face a charter amendment that would broaden the definition of parklands that may not be sold without voter approval. Mayor Hieftje says the amendment is needed to close a “loophole” in the existing definition. Not everyone agrees—Third Ward council representative Leigh Greden calls the amendment “redundant”—but if it does nothing else, it’s likely to ease fears that the city might someday sell all or part of Huron Hills Golf Course. That anxiety is politically explosive—just last year, a write-in candidate running on the issue came within a hair of beating Second Ward rep Stephen Rapundalo.
Washtenaw Community College also is seeking an early renewal and Headlee restoration of its 1-mill operating tax. The millage, which would go into effect in 2011, would cost the owner of that hypothetical house $125 a year.